France were indebted to Mickael Altmeyer for their place at the top of a congested leaderboard after the first round of the International Team Championship (ITC).
With each team comprising three members and the best two scores counting, Altmeyer’s six-under-par round of 66 proved crucial in the trio’s attempt to repeat their success of 2011.
However, standing at five-under after the first of four negotiations of the Old Course at Gloria Golf Club in the Turkish resort of Belek, their lead is a narrow one.
Just one stroke separates them from Belgium and Ireland who share second place. What’s more, with five strokes spanning the leading seven teams in the 23-strong field pursuing the €6,000 first prize, there is a shortage of wiggle room for the early pacemakers.
The chasing pack in the tournament hosted by Gloria Hotels and Resorts includes the defending champions, Scotland, and Holland, winners in 2013.
By contrast, Belgium, inspired by Nicolas Vanhootegem’s five under-par round of 67, have yet to win the event; likewise Italy who lie fourth courtesy of Luce Beneduce posting four-under.
Ireland, meanwhile, were the only team to feature two players posting sub par rounds: Eamonn Brady and Brendan McGovern returning scores of three and one-under respectively.
Graham Fox also posted three-under as the Scots finished equal with the Netherlands, one adrift of England and three clear of Turkey, the early contenders to be the first winners of the International Team Shield.
That will be awarded to the team representing a PGA with 100 members or fewer and with siblings Savas and Bulant Karatas weighing in with rounds of one and two over respectively, Turkey have a three stroke advantage on Iceland and Poland.
Teams: PGA of France (-5); PGA of Belgium, PGA in Ireland (-4); PGA of Italy (-2); PGA in England (-1); PGA in Scotland, PGA of Holland (E).
Individuals: Altmeyer (PGA of France) -6; Vanhootegem (PGA of Belgium) -5; Beneduce (PGA of Italy) -4; Fox (PGA in Scotland), Brady (PGA in Ireland) -3; Engdahl (PGA of Greece) -2; Miller (PGA of Holland), Hendriksen (PGA in England), McGovern (PGA in Ireland) -1.